Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): A Fictional Account of the Bernie & Bonnie Story

I had this theory about two restaurants. There had to be a connection. One I saw a bunch of times when I had a temp job around the NW 23rd business district. The other, a place I drove past many times on Columbia Boulvard. These places were two peas in a pod but I’m not sure that was on their menus. They had similar signs. Sure signs can be designed and bought by any sign maker. They were billed as one person operations. This is not the case with Bonnie’s—it was family owned. They both specialized in burgers and teriyaki. Okay, that’s an unusual combination but it’s probably a coincidence. I wanted a story and I wanted it so bad I realized I had to make it up, something that’s never been done this blatantly in a Portland Orbit story. It goes something like this:

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Bernie and Bonnie met in a meet cute way that had something to do with spilled food or a broken dish.They fell in love over their passions for making and serving delicious meals. Food was their lives so they combined them getting married and opening a restaurant. It was nothing fancy, family fare—the basics. (I’ll get the research department in on this) but let’s name the place B & B’s Diner. No, that doesn’t work so they renamed it BeeBee’s. Life was good, in the kitchen and everywhere in between.

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In all stories something has to happen. Over time the stress, the challenge of running a small business took its toll. Both restaurateurs had their niche but their combined efforts didn’t jell. Bernie and Bonnie had different ideas about their respective Teriyaki recipes. Their stubbornness and inability to compromise led to fights in the kitchen that threatened to spill into the dining area.Tension made the work environment difficult and some staff quit. To paraphrase a line from an old Burt Reynolds (not Ryan Reynolds) movie: the love had gone out of their relationship. Where love had once inspired great meals that satisfied customers their restaurant venture couldn’t survive without it.

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One restaurant became two. Was there animosity? It seems possible since their establishments ended up spreading out from one end of the city to the other. Bonnie’s went to NW 21st in a building tucked under a billboard in that bore her name. The establishment shared space with a gas station. This always brought to mind one of the rules of the road that Fred Owens and I learned the hard way: Never eat in a restaurant attached to a gas station. I’m trying to be fair here. This is a love story gone bad not a restaurant review. I’d like to tell you about Bonnie’s but rules are rules. I’m sure those who could overlook the connection to the gas station appreciated the food.

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Bernie’s place has always intrigued me. It has a desolate feel as if set in an Edward Hopper painting. It looks like an ideal place to nurse an espresso on a cold, gray afternoon. Any other thoughts about the place would be assumptions. I’ve never been there. It looks like a rough and tumble, blue collar joint. That’s an opinion formed from its location in the middle of an industrial section of town intersected by Columbia Boulevard.

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I’m not poking fun or being snooty. I’ve always liked Bernie’s large windows facing the road. It allowed me to look in as I drove by. I could imagine the atmosphere with food smells drifting off the grill. It feels like a place to hide out and wile away an afternoon if I ever had one of those to kill. Or maybe it’s about the quick bite of cheap, filling food. In deciding to read up on some reviews of these places I came across a 4 star Yelp review that described Bernie’s Hamburgers & Teriyaki by saying, “this place does not look spectacular from the outside.” That is part of its charm.

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Meanwhile across town I received some sad news after finding a Reedit thread that spelled out the demise of Bonnie’s Burger and Teriyaki restaurant that was run by a Korean family. At this point the piece becomes a bit of an Orbit Obit. A major renovation of the gas station resulted in a decision to go in a Convienience Mart direction. Bonnie’s had to close. My best guess was that this happened in June of 2019. There was fanfare from dedicated fans who enjoyed the good, cheap meals they dished out but there was no word on whether Bonnie has ever reunited with Bernie.

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Spring Cleaning (Stories I Could Never Get to) When the Georgia Guidestones Came to Portland

Listening to Larry Forte’s Limited Perspective podcast while furiously cleaning and scrubbing out one of our cars—a long procrastinated task, I was pulled into a murky memory. The show’s guests were the director and producers of The Georgia Guidestones movie. The Guidestones, a combination of outsider concept art and roadside attraction  plunked down in Elberton, Georgia, is a mystery that needed this movie to explain it. During the podcast, the director Mike Reser, described his experience screening the film in Portland. His name was familiar—the same name as a childhood friend. The description of the screening felt like a comedy of errors. Then I realized, I had been there.

Listening back to the podcast in preparing this post, the story was as amusing as when I first heard it. A reference to hipsters was an added bonus. The odd thing—I had no recollection of the film maker attending the event. Sorry Mike! We’re talking something that happened in 2013, or was it 2012? The podcast gave me insight on what it took to make the documentary. It made up for my spacing out on that question and answer session. I appreciate a good fish out of water Portland story so I’m going to let Mike take it from here.

Larry Forte: How did they receive it in Portland when you screened it out there?

Mike Reser: Okay, well, it was received well and the people at the theater liked it but it didn’t get a big crowd out there like it would, you know–Charleston, Athens, Elberton, the southeast—a good draw. It went really well in the south but the people there (in Portland) really enjoyed it. It was good. There was some technical difficulties. There was a yellow spot. I mean it was good in the theater but there was this yellow spot on the screen and it wasn’t on my DVD or Blu-ray or whatever it was. Then maybe three quarters through the movie it stalled out, so there were some technical difficulties that I didn’t really experience anywhere else. But the Q and A there was good just like it was everywhere and some of the people who were there—I think they enjoyed it. There was a review—it was the review—

Christy Sinksen:  The regular movie reviewer didn’t review the movie. The food critic was pitch hitting and reviewed the movie.

LF:  So that might be kind of a diss by the regular movie reviewer?

MR:  Well, here’s the thing this was an extremely low budget, D.I.Y. It was the Clinton Street Theater in Portland and I mean it’s not–it’s a great theater, it really is, but it’s not—

CS:  Prestigious.

MR:  Yeah, so yeah, the regular movie critic, I don’t even remember the newspaper in Portland that did this—that was my first experience of something negative in Portland. So anyway this food critic that did review the film just tore it up.

LF:  Really?

CS:  Didn’t they fixate on really technical details like sound quality?

MR:  Yeah it was like I was, I was, I don’t know.

CS:  It’s like dude, it’s a cheap camera.

MR:  It’s not like I’m Herzog or fucking Coen brothers.

CS:  They called him out on technical details.

MR:  You know and it’s just like this is a low budget, do it yourself. And then also like the people ramble on you should cut out a lot of stuff and I’m like: This is southern storytelling.

LF:  They’re supposed to be rambling on.

MR:  So maybe you don’t understand that in hipster Portland. (Everybody laughs.) No, I actually, I like hipsters but going to Portland and doing that I was like whoa, so when you’re in the south and people talk about hipsters, (it’s like) I don’t know I think hipsters are all right. Then you go to a place like Portland, yeah these are insufferable.

LF:  Really? Because, I don’t know, the term hipster kind of escapes me because I thought—I didn’t put negative connotations on it.

MR:  I never did either until I went to Portland and screened a movie.

LF:  So a little sidebar then, what is hipster? What does that mean?

MR:  I’m not sure. I don’t know. Someone once called me a hipster trapped in a redneck body.  (Everybody laughs.)

MR:  I didn’t mean to get off on that.

LF:  No, that speaks for me too. That’s something that’s been in my head.

MR:  Overall the screening in Portland went well but if there was any negative I ever received from it, it was from a critic in Portland.

Paul Floyd:  But it’s the food critic.

MR:  I know but it bothered me. It bothered me at the time.

LF:  Food critics watch movies. They have opinions.

MR:  That’s true it bothered me at the time and now when I look back at it as like—

CS:  It’s like one review compared to many glowing reviews.

MR:  Yeah and I look at that now and it’s like that’s part of it.

CS:  Not everyone is going to like it.

LF:  You can look at it both ways because that’s what’s so impressive to me is you did it for like, I don’t know, at best, I know it cost more than two thousand and sixty dollars and if you had paid your people it would’ve been a million dollars.

MR:  You know y’all are still waiting on the check. (Laughs) 

LF:  Let’s assume you did it for two thousand, sixty bucks. You don’t just make a movie like for that little money. For what you did with the resources you had, it’s impressive.

MR:  I wished that’s what they had understood because they did review it as like I was a legit indie film maker.

LF:  Yeah, like you flew in from New York.

MR:  Like, Sundance or something like that, it’s not who I am at all.

 LF:  Not yet.

*****

The funny thing about the technical difficulties at the screening was how much I’d learned to grin and bear it. It wasn’t a big deal. The Clinton Theater was a bit run down at the time but it made up for that by always offering other worldly cultural experiences, The George Guidestone movie being the type of thing that probably no other theater in town would have screened. One of the owners apologized profusely as we were leaving and gave us tickets for a future show.

I’ve tried in vain to track down that review but have a feeling the food/movie critic was a reporter recruited to host a political candidate forum I worked on during my days at Clark Vancouver Television.  (I’ve since been proved wrong on this. It’s a different paper and different food critic/movie reviewer.) There was a time when Portland hipster backlash seemed to be raging full force. It’s strange to feel nostalgic about it. Hipsters were trying too hard, wearing tight pants, showcasing facial hair and maybe, donning big glasses. As for the movie, I know I loved it. It motivated me to get out of the house and across town to see it on the big screen. I am, afterall, the absolute niche market—an outsider art loving, amateur film making, conspiracy theory appreciating, aging hipster wannabe.

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# # #

Film stills courtesy of the film maker.

Expertly labelled podcast still courtesy of Larry Forte and many thanks to him for permission to use the transcription from his podcast.

RESOURCES:

Check out the Limited Perspective podcast:

or go to the web site:

 

 

Georgia Guidestones movie info:

http://guidestonesmovie.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Never Got To): What’s in a Name? Pound For Pound The Tag Measures Up

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Oh Lord!


When I think about Lord Pound it takes me back in time. There was a different house and neighborhood and our dog Max, who I walked when I spotted most of these tags, has since passed away. The photos are from three years ago. I’m not sure if Lord Pound is active. When I knew of this entity claiming naming rights to every square inch of the Kenton neighborhood I had to admit it had a certain intrigue. I wondered about what was going on with that combination of words and why they were everywhere.

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Ground pound.


So here’s the disclaimer I issue every time I write about graffiti. This is not about promoting or condoning graffiti. I’m here to observe and document even as I risk glamorizing and encouraging works in this medium of vandalization. While it seems irresponsible it’s also irresistible. Graffiti continues. This under read blog offers scant chance of bringing fame or glory to any graffiti producer. Why would they need it anyway? Lord Pound is already royalty according to his moniker. My first assumption is that this is a guy tagger given the male dominance in the graffiti world and the “bro” feel of this tag but I could be wrong.

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Triple pounder.


Lord Pound received a brief mention in this blog in an old post. It’s hard to imagine how he wouldn’t given the ubiquitous nature of his tagging. I couldn’t walk in the neighborhood without seeing his name. Looking over photos, I’ve noticed a certain panache. I can also appreciate its small scale. There’s versions of Lord Pound in different scripts on a single pole. There’s Lord Pound with hearts on the old Comfort Inn, surely painted over by now. Then there’s Lord Pound dripping out of a double arrow on a traffic sign. These tags have flair. They don’t feel slopped and splashed about.

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Pound sign.

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The original Lord Pound?


At first glance the internet provides no clues as to who or what Lord Pound could be or where the name may have derived. There was Dudley Pound who became Admiral the of the Fleet aka First Sea Lord in the British Navy back in 1939 but this hardly seems like a nod to him. There was a mention of a Marvel character named Lord Pound—a god of money, on a database, but the site was making little sense and this would be an obscure reference. There was also much discussion on Reddit from three years ago about Lord Pound tagging the Mt. Hood National Forest. Not cool. I’m sticking with what I’ve learned reading the Pittsburgh Orbit posts written by self-professed speculative journalist Will Simmons  as well as watching multiple episodes of The Alaska Triangle show and offer wild guesses as to what inspired the name Lord Pound.

  • A British boxer with a powerful uppercut, a glass jaw who’s also a bleeder?
  • Religious? As in our Lord and Savior seeking retribution.
  • Some kind of deviant thing, a nod to old school locker room talk? Still affiliated with a bragging British guy wearing Union Jack shorts?
  • Pound sign? Hash mark? Hash tag?
  • Royalty? Money? Royal money?

 

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Impound.

I thought I had a few more entertaining guesses but I am stymied. Regardless, Lord Pound would be a rough neck of some kind. I recall hearing and enjoying the word pound often in the 80’s. It had more of an association with beer drinking as I recall. No one is threatening to pound anyone or anything these days. Then there’s that sexual figure of speech which doesn’t exactly seem gentle or loving. There was a website, something about hot shots, that was written near one of the tags, a half second look revealed it to not be for the faint hearted or anyone with a heart for that matter. As for Lord Pound he may still be out there replacing the tags that wear off from weather, time or clean up. Then again he may have gone into hiding or he’s retired.

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Hearts pound.


After one of my other graffiti posts I was contacted by someone who offered to enlighten me on this subject.At press time, I was unable to establish contact but I might be able to and I’ll add an addendum. The question remains. Why do people feel a need to create a tag and then splash it every and anywhere? Yet, why not? Who doesn’t crave attention any way they can get it? It’s that spirit of look at me that some of us never outgrow. It may have nothing to do with having something to say or it could be saying more than anyone realizes.

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Pound it down.

 

*  *  *  *  *

The Reddit crowd mentioned not posting pictures because it only encourages people but the idea behind the Portland Orbit’s new Spring Cleaning series is to release old photos and ideas. We can only hope that Lord Pound has gone on to bigger and better things besides tagging nature and the Kenton neighborhood.